Family history is in my genes…. my maternal grandfather, his mother and her mother were all keenly interested in finding out more about their roots but I doubt any of them would have dreamt I would be this obsessed with family, local and social history.
I am Kirsty Gray but I was born Kirsty Maunder – a name which has strong West Country connections and makes me half Devonian in my ancestry. At just 36, I have – for a long time – been one of the younger members of the genealogical world. I live in Calne in Wiltshire, England though I grew up on the South Coast in Wimborne, Dorset, spent fourteen years living in Reading, Berkshire, and a year studying in Ottawa, Canada.
Actively searching into the past since my teens, the obsession took hold in my twenties and, when I realised I was doing ‘a one-name study’ on my paternal great-grandmother’s maiden name of Sillifant, I became involved with the Guild of One-Name Studies in the early 2000s. A hobby soon became a part-time business, doing research at various repositories, archives and record offices across the UK during school holidays and on weekends….. I was a full-time teacher of science and mathematics at the time.
Having been appointed as Director of English Studies for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in 2011, set up Family Wise Limited - my own Heir Hunting and family history company – in 2012 and penned my first book, Tracing Your West Country Ancestors, for Pen and Sword in 2012 (published in 2013), I decided to stop juggling billions of different roles in life and just focus on my passion – family, local and social history.
Since leaving teaching in September 2013, I have delivered over fifty lectures and travelled to Australia and Canada in the process. On my company website, I write a historical/genealogical blog every day, though sometimes, it’s just plain random!
Volunteer-wise, I held the role of Secretary of the Guild of One-Name Studies for 6.5 years and have just completed my final term of a four-year period as Chairman. In 2013, I co-founded the new Society for One-Place Studies with five other family and local historians across the globe (one of whom is Julie Goucher, a fellow writer at IDG). The innovative approach to the new society has seen a rapid growth in the global one-place community and a membership of over 100 in less than six months.
My subjects of interest are broad and varied, with my next Pen and Sword publication due in the forthcoming year on Tracing Your Industrial Ancestors. I am delighted to be joining the fantastic team of writers here at The In-Depth Genealogist and, starting June 15th, you can read my monthly blogs and articles about tracing your criminal ancestors.